Behind the scenes, Dr. Dre—whose real name is Andre Young —has quietly played an equally powerful role developing and protecting the Beats brand, eschewing market research for gut instinct at every turn. Though his main obsession is perfecting the sound of the company's signature high-end headphones, the 49-year-old fitness-obsessed music producer weighs in decisively on everything from TV ads and font styles to the wordiness of descriptions on the Beats Music streaming service.
A colleague says that Dr. Dre serves as Beats' "cultural barometer" of what is cool. His process is called mysterious and his assessments are usually immediate, personal, and articulated sparely. He apparently dismisses ideas such as posing for clichéd photos in a recording studio as too "corny" or "cheesy." Or, he may wave off ideas he doesn't like with a terse "I'm not feeling that."
Dr. Dre is also said to have a perfectionist impulse -- often trusting his gut instinct, and has a disregard for artificial deadlines. The Journal even compares him to Apple's late co-founder Steve Jobs.
Dr. Dre's perfectionist impulse, coupled with his disregard for artificial deadlines, have meant that "he doesn't put out a lot of material," despite being a workaholic, said Paul Rosenberg, a lawyer and manager of one of Dr. Dre's protégés, rapper Eminem. That could portend friction at his new employer, Apple, which agreed to buy Beats for $3 billion last month. But like Dr. Dre, Apple has also boasted about not doing market research. The company's late founder, Steve Jobs, made no secret of his belief that consumers don't really know what they want until someone else shows it to them. Colleagues predict that at Apple Dr. Dre could also cede some decision-making power and become more accommodating.
Both Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine will work with Apple's hardware and music divisions going forward, as they help expand Apple's presence in the music industry. They will report to Phil Schiller and Eddy Cue.